WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The 2020-2021 school year is approaching as students, staff, and parents are still wondering what to do with their children during this coronavirus pandemic.
Wilbraham and Monson Academy said they are confident with their plan and they are ready to have students come back this fall.
“We have a plan for full time, five day a week in person classes. Students will be in school every day, all day long,” said Wilbraham and Monson Academy Head of School Brian Easler.
Easler told Western Mass News that their large campus of 400 acres and multiple academic buildings puts them at an advantage compared to other schools, allowing students and staff to stay distant while not missing in-person education.
“So we were able to quickly and with the addition of a few walls and removal of a few, we have been able to adapt our campus to have our regular class sizes in-person, all the time that includes afternoon as well,” Easler explained.
Easler said desks are six feet apart and masks must be warn inside the classrooms and shared spaces, such as the library and cafeterias.
“We also took our chapel and it’s not used as a chapel anymore. We have removed all the seating and we have transformed it into a second dining hall, so we were able to split our dining hall into two spaces, which is what will allow us to feed everybody in a safe manor on-campus,” Easler noted.
One of the big things Wilbraham and Monson Academy will be doing this year is testing all students once a week
“The reason we are doing that really is it comes down really to a question if you had to fly today on an airplane, would feel confident or more comfortable knowing everyone on that plane has been tested or presumed negative? The answer is yes and that’s the way we are going into our planning,” Easler added.
WMA also provides dorm-style living for students, some of which are international, but Easler saod they plan on having all domestic and international students that will be boarding take a series of tests three days before starting school and day students will get tested a week before.
“All of the testing is not 100 percent accurate. Even the gold standard PCR test, which is what we are doing with MIT, so we will test those boarding students for three days straight and know they are clean and don’t have the virus,” Easler said.
When it comes to living in shared spaces, Easler said he understands you can’t force students to stay away from one another or wear a mask inside their dorms.
That’s why they’ve added air purifiers and will continue to test their students.
“Because of the frequency in which we will be testing people on-campus, in addition to the MIT testing, we also have leased two Quidels Sofia 2 test analyzers, so we will be able to five to 15 minute turnaround antigen testing on-campus,” Easler said.